The international swimming community has expressed its condolences after the shock death of Kenneth To, a 26-year-old record breaking swimmer from Hong Kong.
Many swimmers, including American Ryan Lochte, have taken to Twitter to offer condolences and share thoughts on the swimmer.
To was seen as one of Hong Kong's strongest competitors heading into qualifying for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
"Words cannot express how saddened I am at the passing of Kenneth To," Lochte, the second-most decorated swimmer in Olympic history with 12 medals, said. "The world has lost an incredible human being."
"I'm so grateful to have been able to call him a friend and to have gotten to know him over the past several years," Lochte said.
"He was not only a fierce competitor, but more importantly, he was a really good person. My heart goes out to his family, his girlfriend and friends. I'll miss you buddy."
Jamaican swimmer and Olympian Alia Atkinson said that the 1.7-metres tall To was an inspiration for shorter swimmers.
"He was such a light and pure guy," Atkinson wrote on Instagram. "He will always be my example for any swimmer that puts boundaries on themselves from their height, work ethic, whatever.
"I would show swimmers who are struggling, insecure, self conscious, his videos, and they would be amazed by his underwaters, beating men maybe a foot or more taller than him."
A post shared by Alia Atkinson, CD (@alia_atkinson) on Mar 19, 2019 at 4:06am PDT
"The mental strength of this man and the fortitude he must have had after moving countries, surgery and more, all while working his way back into the sport is a strength not many athletes have in their entire career, especially since he did it with a smile," Atkinson said.
"Kenneth To, you will not be forgotten, and your example will always be that of strength, resilience and a smile in the face of adversity in competition and in life.
"I hope your family will be honoured by the prayers, love, support and feeling of pride as they hear from the swimmers and people Kenneth has impacted in such a short time."
Former US swimmer Jessica Hardy, who retired in 2016, said that To was "one of the nicest guys I ever had the pleasure of travelling with. RIP Kenneth, taken too soon".
British swimmer Siobhan-Marie O'Connor, who is 23 years old and won a silver medal in the 200-metres individual medley at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, said she was "shocked and saddened" by the news.
"A lovely guy, taken far too soon. Sending my love to his family and friends at this awful time," O'Connor said.
American swimmer Kyle Sockwell, who previously swam for Arizona State University, said he had heard "nothing but great things about (To)".
USA Swimming also offered their condolences with a tweet: "Our thoughts are with Kenneth To's family & friends."
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